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NCAA WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT

Taurasi Powers Connecticut

March 24, 2004|From Associated Press

Diana Taurasi scored 17 points and Connecticut used a 30-4 run in the second half Tuesday to beat Auburn, 79-53, in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Bridgeport, Conn.

The second-seeded Huskies, who improved to 27-4 after winning the East Regional game, made a season-high 14 three-point baskets and clamped down on the Tigers in the second half to win going away.

When Auburn's open looks disappeared, so did its offense. The seventh-seeded Tigers (22-9) missed their first 17 shots in the second half. Le'Coe Willingham scored Auburn's first basket with 3:49 left.

The two-time defending champion Huskies advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament for the 11th consecutive season and will play UC Santa Barbara.

Taurasi, who won her second straight Naismith Award as the country's top player Tuesday, made five of nine three-pointers and finished with seven assists. The Chino native already is the school's career three-point leader and is two assists from breaking the mark of 637, held by Jennifer Rizzotti.

Willingham led Auburn with 16 points, and Louise Emeagi added 12.

Ann Strother finished with 16 points for Connecticut.

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Penn State 61, Virginia Tech 48 -- Tanisha Wright made up for fellow All-American Kelly Mazzante's poor shooting by scoring 26 of the first 36 points for the top-seeded Nittany Lions (27-5) in a victory over the eighth-seeded Hokies (23-8) at Blacksburg, Va.

Wright had 17 of Penn State's 25 first-half points and nine of their first 11 in the second half, the last four sparking a 20-4 run that put the Nittany Lions in control.

It didn't matter that Mazzante, a two-time Big Ten Conference player of the year, missed nine of her first 10 shots. Mazzante made four of 16 shots and finished with nine points.

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Notre Dame 59, Middle Tennessee 46 -- Jacqueline Batteast tied her career-high with 27 points, 14 during a decisive 22-1 run, to lead the fifth-seeded Irish (21-11) to a victory over the 13th-seeded Raiders (24-8) at South Bend, Ind.

Middle Tennessee led, 26-25, when Batteast started Notre Dame on its run with a 14-foot jumper from the baseline. Monique Hernandez then scored on a layup to give the Irish a 29-26 halftime lead.

Batteast scored the first six points of the second half and 12 of Notre Dame's first 18 points.

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WEST REGIONAL

Louisiana State 76, Maryland 61 -- Seimone Augustus scored 26 points to help rally the fourth-seeded Tigers (25-7) over the 12th-seeded Terrapins (16-13) at Baton Rouge.

Maryland, which upset fifth-seeded Miami in the first round, cut LSU's lead to 60-55 on a pair of free throws by Shay Doron with 5:27 left.

But a 16-6 run down the stretch sealed the victory for the Tigers.

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Texas 80, Michigan State 61 -- Jamie Carey shook off a ferocious collision in the first half to lead the top-seeded Longhorns (30-4) to a bruising victory over the eighth-seeded Spartans (22-9) at Austin, Texas.

Carey had to leave the court for several minutes after running into a defensive screen but returned to score 20 points, including five three-pointers.

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Purdue 60, Villanova 42 -- Shereka Wright scored 19 points and the second-seeded Boilermakers (29-3) dominated the seventh-seeded Wildcats (23-7) in the second half after a slow start at Ames, Iowa.

Purdue outscored Villanova, 37-14, in the second half and moved into the round of 16 for the third time in four years.

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MIDEAST REGIONAL

Duke 76, Marquette 67 -- Alana Beard scored 30 points in her final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium and reserve Brittany Hunter had 12 after halftime to lift the top-seeded Blue Devils (29-3) over the ninth-seeded Golden Eagles (22-10) at Durham, N.C.

Monique Currie scored 15 first-half points for Duke, which shot 52% from the field but committed a season-high 26 turnovers.

*

Minnesota 80, Kansas State 61 -- Janel McCarville had 15 points and a career-high 18 rebounds to lead the seventh-seeded Gophers (23-8) to an unexpectedly easy victory over the second-seeded Wildcats (25-6) at Minneapolis.

Minnesota made seven of 13 three-pointers in the first half and used a 31-8 run over the last 14 1/2 minutes to take a 43-17 lead at the break.

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